Connect with us


Cutoff carnage: The good, bad, and undead

Deadline for floor passage inspires votes, dooms many bills—for now


Leg-Update-15_145x145 copypdf-versionToday’s edition of the WSLC Legislative Update newsletter:

OLYMPIA (March 12, 2015) — Yesterday was the cutoff deadline for policy bills to pass their houses of origin, which led to a flurry of floor votes this week. Key bills affecting working families — some in positive ways and some negative — have either advanced to the opposite house or are now dead for the session.

Probably. “Dead” is relative in Olympia.

Capitol-shredderFirst of all, bills deemed necessary to implement the budget, such as the Aerospace Tax Incentive Accountability bills, are not subject to cutoff deadlines. Plus, bills can be resurrected via amendment and other extraordinary procedural means until sine die on the session’s final day. But if they aren’t budget related and they missed this week’s cutoff, the likelihood is they are done for the session.

Here’s an update on some key bills that survived, and some that didn’t:




Organized labor SUPPORTS the following bills:



○  EQUAL PAY OPPORTUNITY ACT (HB 1646, Senn) — Requiring employers to provide a valid reason, such as education, training, or experience to validate disparities in pay. It also permits workers to discuss their pay without fear of retaliation from their employer. PASSED the House 55-43.

○  MINIMUM WAGE (HB 1355, Farrell) — Increase the state’s minimum wage over four years to $12 an hour. PASSED the House 51-46, now in Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

○  PAID SICK LEAVE (HB 1356, Jinkins) — Allowing all workers in Washington to earn sick leave to take care of themselves or a loved one when they are sick. PASSED the House 51-46, now in Senate Commerce and Labor.

●  WAGE THEFT/ANTI-RETALIATION (HB 1354, Ryu) — Protects workers from retaliation for speaking up about wage theft and requesting rightfully earned wages. DIED without a House vote.


○  AEROSPACE TAX INCENTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY / WAGES (HB 1786, Gregerson) — Requiring firms receiving the aerospace tax incentives to pay veteran employees at least the state median wage for a one-earner family, currently about $52,000 per year. Scheduled for a hearing in House Finance at 8 a.m. this Friday, March 13. Come show your support!

○  AEROSPACE TAX INCENTIVE ACCOUNTABILITY / JOBS (HB 2147, Robinson) — Creating an incentive for firms receiving aerospace tax incentives to keep jobs in Washington by incrementally reducing a company’s tax breaks when it moves jobs out of state. Scheduled for a hearing at 8 a.m. in House Finance this Friday, March 13. Come show your support!


○  COLLEGE FACULTY PAY (HB 1863, Reykdal) — Requiring community and technical colleges to offer step increases in pay to all full- and part-time faculty, and modifying collective bargaining law to permit step increases that exceed the mount provided by the Legislature. PASSED the House 64-34, now in Senate Commerce and Labor.

○  NURSE – REST & MEAL BREAKS (HB 1732, Reykdal) — Ensuring nurses and certain other health care employees have access to uninterrupted meal and rest breaks, and that mandatory overtime is prohibited for certain health care employees. PASSED the House 52-46, now in Senate Commerce and Labor.

●  NURSE – SAFE STAFFING (HB 1733, Cody) — Directing the Department of Health to establish and enforce patient assignment limits the set a maximum number that can be assigned to each registered nurse. DIED without a House vote.

○  PUBLIC SAFETY PENSIONS (HB 1718, Ormsby) — Expanding access to the Public Safety Employees Retirement System (PSERS) to state employees who provide nursing care, custody or safety in state institutions. PASSED the House 95-3, now in Senate Ways and Means.

●  WORKERS’ COMP (HB 1613, Pollet) — Allows L&I to authorize medications and related treatment after claim closure in certain cases of permanent partial disability to protect the worker’s life. DIED without a House vote.


●  CLOSING A.C.A. LOOPHOLES (HB 1931, Cody) — Prohibits large employers from cutting workers’ hours to avoid obligations to provide health care insurance and from implementing policies that shift employees onto Medicaid coverage. DIED without a House vote.

●  GETTING AND KEEPING COVERAGE (HB 1669, Riccelli) — Establishing a task force to help the state study the new landscape of health care coverage and how to help residents get and maintain coverage. DIED without a House vote.




Organized labor OPPOSES the following bills:



○  ADMINISTRATIVE BURDENS (SB 5226, Becker) — ALEC legislation creating administrative reporting burdens for public employee unions,  requiring them to file reports to the state listing all expenditures, and posting the information online. PASSED the Senate 26-22.

●  BANNING UNION SECURITY (SB 5671, Baumgartner) — Expanding the Harris v. Quinn decision to create so-called “right-to-work” bargaining restrictions banning union security for family child care providers, adult family home providers, language access providers, and home care individual providers. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  DISCOURAGING UNION SECURITY (SB 5045,  Angel) — Would empower a minority of workers in a public
employee bargaining unit to force an election specifically to revoke their contract’s union-security clause, which requires all employees who benefit from a union contract to pay at least a representation fee. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  PROMOTING DECERTS (SB 5237, Hewitt) — Expanding the window for public employee union decertification. Sought by the right-wing Freedom Foundation, which incites and promotes such decertifications. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  PUBLIC BARGAINING (SB 5329, Braun) — Making all state employee collective bargaining talks open to the public. No one bargains publicly — not legislative caucuses, not business leaders, not the State Department — because it makes it impossible to have real, frank conversations at the table. This is pushed by the right-wing Freedom Foundation, which aims to politicize contract talks. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  RELIGIOUS OBJECTORS (SB 5552, Padden) — Removing objective standards for determining religious objections to paying union dues. Sought by the right-wing Freedom Foundation to expand the number of religious objectors and undermine union finances. DIED without a Senate vote.


○  EXPANDING PAYDAY LOANS (SB 5899, Liias) — Loosening restrictions on payday loans, which are high-interest loans targeted to low-income workers that have historically trapped them in a cycle of debt. PASSED the Senate 30-18, now in Senate Business & Financial Services.


●  “AG GAG” (HB 1104, Schmick) — ALEC model bill making it a crime to document what happens on farms without the owner’s written consent. DIED without a House vote.

●  ELECTRICAL DEREGULATION (SB 5281, Braun; SB 5845 & 5846, Warnick) — IBEW-opposed bills to deregulate the electrical industry by decreasing training, electrical certification, licensing, permitting and inspections. All DIED without votes.

○  ELECTRICAL DEREGULATION – ALARMS (SB 5282, Braun) — IBEW-opposed legislation exempting some security-alarm installers from state electrical certification standards. PASSED the Senate 32-16.

●  MINIMUM WAGE CUT FOR TEENS (SB 5422, Baumgartner) — Expanding the existing teen minimum wage (85% of the minimum for 14 and 15 year olds) to apply to 16, 17, 18, and 19 year olds as well. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  MINIMUM WAGE CUT FOR TEENS – SUMMER (SB 5421, Baumgartner) — Allowing businesses to pay teenagers on summer jobs a sub-minimum wage nearly 25 percent lower than the state minimum. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  MINIMUM WAGE/O.T. EXCUSE (SB 5514, Braun) — Creating a “good-faith” defense for employers that fail to pay minimum or overtime wages. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  PRE-EMPTING LOCAL STANDARDS (SB 5332, Braun) — Pre-empting local jurisdictions’ ordinances, such as SeaTac’s minimum wage and Seattle’s sick leave, and all future ordinances to change how they are applied to union members. This would create conflicts with collectively bargained contracts, such as building trades workers’ hour banks for purposes of sick leave. DIED without Senate vote.

●  PREVAILING WAGE (SB 5707, Ericksen; and SBs 5774, 5950 and 5951, Braun) — Exempting certain cities and projects from state prevailing wage standards and changing how they are calculated. All DIED without a Senate vote.


●  GROUP SELF-INSURANCE (SB 5331) — Legalizing the risky practice of multiple employers banding together to self-insure. In other states, such groups have become insolvent and passed major costs onto other employers and/or abandoned injured workers. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE (SB 5509) — Radically redefining occupational disease in a way that gives employers near immunity for any illnesses/conditions that can be partially blamed on non-work activities, and dramatically restricting the time frame for filing claims. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  PRIVATIZATION (SB 5420) — Allowing the private sale of industrial insurance, a concept overwhelmingly rejected by voters in 2010. That initiative failed in every county — red and blue. DIED without a Senate vote.

●  REPORTING INJURIES (SB 5576) — Dramatically shortening the statute of limitations for filing claims and requiring claims be filed with the employer, which opens the door to intimidation to discourage claims. DIED without a Senate vote.

○  STRUCTURED SETTLEMENTS (SB 5513) — Dramatically expanding the lump-sum buyouts of injured workers by lowering the age limit from 50 to 18. Amended by Sen. Hobbs to lower the age from 50 to 40, PASSED the Senate 28-21, now in House Labor. The WSLC remains strongly opposed to the bill.

●  UNDERMINING TOBIN (SB 5508) — Overturning a Supreme Court decision in the Tobin case. The bill would allow employers and the state to confiscate percentages of injured workers’ (and their survivors’) court awards for pain-and-suffering in wrongful death and other cases. DIED without a Senate vote.

○  WAGE SIMPLIFICATION (SB 5510) — “Simplifying” benefit calculations by cutting and capping them. Plus, nixing a Supreme Court decision requiring that the value of health benefits be included in those calculations. Amended to create a study group on the issue to make recommendations, PASSED the Senate 41-8, now in House Labor. The WSLC remains opposed.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!